Friday, May 18, 2018

The Kooks say, 'Let’s Go Sunshine'

A. Whitton
The Kooks are set to release their fifth studio album, Let’s Go Sunshine, on Aug. 31 via Lonely Cat/AWAL Recordings. The band has unveiled two new songs off the album, “No Pressure” and “All The Time” and will embark on a quick sold out U.S. tour next week through early June. The Kooks will also be hitting cities across Europe this summer, including shows opening up for The Rolling Stones. Please see full tour routing below. Click HERE to pre-order Let’s Go Sunshine.

They recently finished a sold-out UK arena tour and have more than one billion streams to date.

Discussing the process behind creating the album, lead singer Luke says: “This one was about defining who we are, we were asking the questions. It was a fractured start, we went into the studio in 2015 continuing down the path we set out on our last studio album Listen and discovered it wasn’t what we wanted to make and wasn’t really The Kooks. So, we scrapped it and started again. I really went on a mission to write the best songs I’d ever written before bringing them to the band, I stewed over every word. It had to be our “Rubber Soul,” “Lola,” “Definitely Maybe.” Proper British lineage. I came from a dark place at the start had a lotta heartbreak and then falling in love in the middle of the album, the lyrics reflect that. From “Fractured and Dazed” to “No Pressure.” It’s gotta be our most exciting album, and it should get you dancing.”

The Kooks started their career in 2006 with their debut Inside In/Inside Out, which went five times platinum in the U.K., recorded three more albums including a “Best of.” 

Track listing:

1. Intro
2. Kids
3. All The Time
4. Believe
5. Fractured and Dazed
6. Chicken Bone
7. Four Leaf Clover
8. Tesco Disco
9. Honey Bee
10. Initials For Gainsbourg
11. Pamela
12. Picture Frame
13. Swing Low
14. Weight of the World
15. No Pressure

U.S. Tour dates:

May 21 House of Blues Boston, MA
May 22 Terminal 5 New York, NY
May 23 Brooklyn Steel Brooklyn, NY
May 25 Lincoln Theatre Washington, DC
May 26 The Trocadero Philadelphia, PA
May 29 Danforth Music Hall Toronto, Canada
May 30 Vic Theatre Chicago, IL
June 1 The Showbox Sodo Seattle WA
June 2 Roseland Theatre Portland, OR
June 4 Warfield Theatre San Francisco, CA
June 5 The Observatory Santa Ana, CA
June 6 The Observatory North Park, San Diego, CA
June 7 The Wiltern Los Angeles, CA

European Tour dates:

June 17 Pinkpop Landgraaf, Netherlands
June 22 Olympiastadion Berlin, Germany*
June 23 Hurricane Festival Germany
June 24 Southside Festival Germany
June 30 Stuttgart Mercedes-Benz Arena Germany*
July 4 Rock For People Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic
July 6 Rock Werchter Werchter, Belgium
July 13 NOS Alive Lisbon, Portugal
July 19 FIB Benicassim, Spain
August 10 Sziget Festival Budapest, Hungary
August 12 Summer Well Festival Buftea, Romania
August 16 FM4 Frequency Sankt Polten, Austria
August 24 Reading Festival UK
August 25 Leeds Festival UK
September 1 Electric Picnic Ireland

*opening for The Rolling Stones

Shooter Jennings back with new album this summer

Low Country Sound/Elektra Records announce the new album from Shooter Jennings, Shooter, due Aug. 10. It is available for pre-order now at all DSPs and streaming services HERE.

All pre-orders are joined by an instant grat download of the project's first single, "Fast Horses & Good Hideouts," also available today for individual purchase at all DSPs and streaming services HERE. "Fast Horses & Good Hideouts" - which sees Jennings and Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell) sharing songwriting credit with character actor Randy Quaid - just debuted on SiriusXM Outlaw Country, home since 2005 of the "Shooter Jennings' Electric Rodeo" radio show.

In addition, the single is joined by a new companion visual - directed by TK - that sees Jennings hosting his own variety show, entitled "Hey Shooter!" "Fast Horses & Good Hideouts" is streaming now at the official Shooter Jennings YouTube channel.

"Randy and I had been corresponding for a while," Jennings says of the song's genesis. "I was trying to get him and his wife on my radio show, but nothing ever came of it. Then I asked him about one of the YouTube videos they made of him reading out of the Bible, I wanted to play it on the Christmas episode. He wrote back, saying I'd fulfilled this lifelong dream of his to read the Gospel on the radio, and he signed it, 'Here's to fast horses and good hideouts.' I thought, that would make a great song! So then I went and wrote it."


Jennings is marking the album arrival with a wide-ranging live schedule. "The Bound Ta Git Down Tour" includes headline shows, dates supporting Turnpike Troubadours, and event performances. Additional dates will be announced - for updates and ticket information, please visit Shooter Jennings' official TOUR page.

Produced by longtime friend and collaborator Cobb, at the renowned RCA Studio A on Nashville's Music Row, the album sees Jennings seeking to simply make a great country record. His last studio album was a tribute to Giorgio Moroder. 

"It's a very honest record," Jennings says. "There are no magic tricks. It's really stuff that's from the heart; it really encapsulates a lot of the styles I've done across all my records. Dave said, 'Can't we just call it Shooter' I said, I love that. Let's just call it Shooter."

Track listing:

Bound Ta Git Down
Do You Love Texas?
Living In A Minor Key
Shades & Hues
I'm Wild & My Woman Is Crazy
Fast Horses & Good Hideouts
Rhinestone Eyes
Denim & Diamonds

Tour dates:

2 - Brighton, CO - Summerfest
8 - Austin, TX - Republic of Texas Biker Rally
15 - Wappapello, MO - The Camp at Lake Wappapello
16 - Kansas City, KS - Tumbleweed
21 - Belton, TX - Schoepf's Backyard
22 - Splendora, TX - Coals Smokehouse
23 - Pilot Point, TX - Western Son Distillery
24 - Dallas, TX - Taste of Dallas @ Gas Monkey Garage
27 - Bonita Springs, FL - Southwest Florida Event Center
28 - Tampa, FL - The Attic
29 - Tallahassee, FL - Fifth and Thomas
30 - Blairsville, GA - Granddaddy Mimm's Distillery *
4 - Wayne, NE - The Beaumont
5 - Lincoln, NE - The Royal Grove
6 - Tulsa, OK - The Shrine
7 - Amarillo, TX - Will Rogers Riders Rodeo
12 - Milwaukee, WI - Shank Hall
13 - La Crosse, WI - Cavalier Theater
14 - Mankato, MN - Vetter Stone Amphitheater **
27 - Houston, TX - Lawn at White Oak Music Hall **
28 - New Braunfels, TX - Whitewater Amphitheater **
2 - Sacramento, CA - Sofia Tsakopoulos Center
4 - Santa Cruz, CA - Moe's Alley
8 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern
10 - Pioneertown, CA - Pappy & Harriet's
11 - Hollywood, CA -Troubadour
22 - Washington, DC - City Winery
23 - Milton, WV - Milton Performing Arts Center
24 - Winston-Salem, NC - The Ramkat
25 - Black Mountain, NC - Jam In The Trees
31 - Columbia, MO - 9th Street Summerfest **
2 - Beaver Dam, KY - Beaver Dam Amphitheater **
6 - Lexington, KY - The Burl
7 - Bristol, TN - Maddie's Hall
8 - Atlanta, GA - Harley Davidson of ATL
9 - Columbia, SC - The Senate
12 - Fayetteville, AR - George's Majestic Lounge
13 - Indianapolis, IN - The HiFi
14 - Springfield, MO - The Riff
15 - Lee's Summit, MO - Legacy Park Amphitheater
22 - Tahlequah, OK - Medicine Stone Festival **
27 - St Paul, MN - Turf Club
28 - Wisconsin Dells, WI - Kilbourn City Live
29 - Ferndale, MI - Magic Bag
4 - Saskatoon, SK - Broadway Theatre
5 - Cadillac, SK - Cadillac Hall
6 - Edmonton, AB - River Cree Casino ***
13 - Ashland, KY - Ashland River Front
20 - Fort Worth, TX - KFWR Annual Ranch Bash
8 - Brooklyn, NY - Knitting Factory Brooklyn
11 - Portland, ME - Port City Music Hall

* w/Waymore's Outlaws
** w/Turnpike Troubadours
*** w/Jessi Colter

Out now: Matt Costa’s 'Santa Rosa Fangs'

photo: Pamela Littky
Critically acclaimed Southern California-based singer/songwriter Matt Costa’s fifth full-length album—and first in five years—Santa Rosa Fangs is out now on Dangerbird Records and available for purchase/streaming at

Costa is set to tour North America throughout the spring and summer, including a hometown record release show at The Troubadour in West Hollywood on June 5. See below for a list of performances; tickets are available for purchase at

Additionally, Costa launched a series of digital mixtapes in the lead-up to the release of Santa Rosa Fangs, each playlist corresponding to a leg of the drive up the California coast as played out by the protagonists who appear throughout the new album. Listen to “The Road to Santa Rosa Fangs” at

The video for the single “Sharon” was filmed at Montana’s iconic Sip N Dip Lounge, a tiki-and-mermaid themed bar at the O’Haire Motor Inn that dates back to the early 1960s. Watch/share the video at

Costa also premiered the album’s first single “I Remember It Well” and “Time Tricks.” Watch/share the album trailer at

Produced by Peter Matthew Bauer (The Walkmen) and Nick Stumpf (French Kicks), the songs on Santa Rosa Fangs center around a fictional young woman named Sharon, her two brothers Ritchie and Tony, and their story of love, loss and coming of age in California, replete with long distance love affairs and nostalgic romances.

Rather than setting out to create a specific narrative, Costa began noticing a theme in the new songs as he wrote them: an unconscious embodiment of the surroundings in which he himself had grown up.

“I’ve interwoven my own stories into a fictional idea of what Santa Rosa Fangs is, from my own time spent living in Northern and Southern California and years driving up and down the coast, seeing the landscape and where life can pull you within one state,” Costa explains. “It’s the characters’ story and my story, too, contemporary but still tortured by the past. It’s a window into a time period but spoken as if it’s the present. The beauty of love and loss doesn’t have a date on it; it’s timeless.”

Santa Rosa Fangs follows Costa’s 2013 self-titled effort. In the early 2000s Costa was on his way to becoming a professional skateboarder when he was derailed by a serious injury. He changed his focus to his songwriting and an early demo found its way to No Doubt’s Tom Dumont, who ultimately produced Costa’s early recordings. In the time since Costa’s last full-length record he has kept busy by sound tracking the award-winning documentary Orange Sunshine and independently releasing a series of EPs.

Track listing:

1. I Remember It Well
2. Sharon
3. Grudge
4. Pacific Grove
5. Santa Rosa Fangs
6. Time Tricks
7. Coming Around
8. Ritchie
9. Phosphorescent Letter
10. Windy Smile
11. Real Love
12. I Remember It Well #2

Tour dates:

May 19
Philadelphia, PA
Boot & Saddle*

May 21
Vienna, VA
Jammin’ Java*

May 22
Brooklyn, NY
Rough Trade*

May 23
Cambridge, MA
The Sinclair*

May 25
Toronto, ON
Longboat at Great Hall*

May 26
Ann Arbor, MI
The Blind Pig*

May 27
Chicago, IL

May 28
Milwaukee, WI
Shank Hall*

May 30
St. Paul, MN
The Turf Club*

June 5
Los Angeles, CA
The Troubadour†

June 7
Carmel, CA
Live in the Vines

July 7
San Francisco, CA
CafĂ© du Nord†

July 9
Bellingham, WA
Wild Buffalo†

July 10
Seattle, WA
Tractor Tavern†

July 11
Vancouver, BC
Biltmore Cabaret†

July 12
Portland, OR
Doug Fir Lounge†

August 16
Dana Point, CA
Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach

* with Elizabeth & the Catapult
† with Katie Toupin (ex-Houndmouth)

Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins readies long-awaited album for July

Popular new wave musician Tom Bailey of 1980s New Wave hitmakers Thompson Twins is set to release his first new music in 25 years. The first-ever solo album Science Fiction is due out July 13 via Mikrokosmos/BFD (distributed by The Orchard in North America).

It was produced by Bailey with production assistance of Hal Ritson (Chemical Brothers, David Guetta). It was recorded all over the world (France, New Zealand, London) with the studio being Bailey’s laptop and set of headphones.

Inspired by his return to the live stage in 2014, Bailey commented, “I so much enjoyed playing concerts around the world over the last couple of years, that I began working behind the scenes on writing, recording and mixing the songs in this collection. I have concentrated on other areas of music for the past couple of decades – but I find it incredibly rewarding to be making pop music again. There’s something so special about the way this kind of music works and, for me, it’s like finding a long-lost friend.”

The first single from the album, “What Kind Of World,” was inspired by the untimely death of music legend David Bowie as well as Tesla owner Elon Musk’s vision of future commercial space travel. See below for the full album track listing.

In support of the album, Bailey will head out on an American tour this summer supporting Boy George & Culture Club and The B’52s. The tour will also include several headlining dates. Check for the current itinerary after this press release.

Track listing: 

1. Science Fiction
2. What Kind Of World
3. Shooting Star
4. Feels Like Love To Me
5. Blue
6. If You Need Someone
7. Ship Of Fools
8. Work All Day
9. Bring Back Yesterday
10. Come So Far

Tour dates:

(Supporting Boy George+Culture Club, The B-52's unless otherwise noted):

29 St. Augustine, FL St. Augustine Amphitheatre
30 Tampa, FL USF Sun Dome
1 Pompano Beach, FL Pompano Beach Amphitheatre
3 Lake Buena Vista, FL House Of Blues
5 Biloxi, MS IP Casino, Resort & Spa*
7 San Antonio, TX Tobin Center For The Performing Arts
10 Austin, TX Austin City Limits At The Moody Theater
11 Grand Prairie, TX Verizon Theatre At Grand Prairie
15 Sugar Land, TX Smart Financial Centre
17 Cary, NC Koka Booth Amphitheatre
18 Vienna, VA Wolf Trap
20 Charleston, SC Volvo Car Stadium
21 Charlotte, NC PNC Music Pavilion
22 Atlanta, GA State Bank Amphitheatre At Chastain Park
24 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage*
25 Wilmington, DE The Queen*
27 Boston, MA The Wang Theater
28 Forest Hills, NY Forest Hills Stadium
29 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE
3 Asbury Park, NJ Stone Pony Summer Stage
4 Atlantic City, NJ Music Box At Borgata
5 Mashantucket, CA Grand Theater At Foxwoods
8 Milwaukee, WI Potawatomi Hotel And Casino*
9 Cedar Rapids, IA McGrath Amphitheatre*
10 Springfield, IL Illinois State Fairgrounds
11 Council Bluffs, IA Harrahs Council Bluff
28 Lewiston, NY Artpark
29 Kent, OH Kent Stage*
30 Clarkston, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
31 Highland Park, IL Ravinia Pavilion
1 Highland Park, IL Ravinia Pavilion
3 St. Paul, MN Minnesota State Fairgrounds
5 Kettering, OH Fraze Pavilion
6 St. Louis, MO Fox Theatre
7 Kansas City, MO Starlight Theatre
8 Greenwood Village, CO Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre
13 Puyallup, WA Washington State Fair Events Center
14 Kennewick, WA Toyota Center
15 Portland, OR Theater Of The Clouds
16 Murphys, CA Ironstone Amphitheatre
18 Saratoga, CA Mountain Winery
19 Saratoga, CA Mountain Winery
21 West Valley City, UT Maverick Center
22 Reno, NV Reno Events Center
23 Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Bowl
25 San Diego, CA Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
27 Albuquerque, NM Sandia Casino
28 Cabazon, CA Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
29 Las Vegas, CA Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
30 Scottsdale, AZ Talking Stick Resort
3 Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre
4 Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre
5 Tucson, AZ Fox Tucson*

*Tom Bailey headlining show

Out now: James Bay's 'Electric Light'

James Bay's second album, Electric Light [Republic Records] is available today.

Upon going live at midnight last night, the album entered at #1 on the iTunes Alternative Chart, #3 on the iTunes Album Chart, debuted #1 on the UK iTunes Album Chart and hit Top 10 on the iTunes Album Chart in 40+ countries.

Bay appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this week performing “Pink Lemonade” and “Us.” Watch “Pink Lemonade” Here and “Us” Here. Next up, he plays the outdoor stage at Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! May 21 on ABC before heading to NBC’s The Voice for their season finale on May 22.

The Rolling Stones tapped Bay to open their stadium show on June 19 at London’s Twickenham Stadium. He will also on blues legend Buddy Guy’s upcoming album The Blues Is Alive And Well on the new song “Blue No More.” Others featured on the album include Jeff Beck, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger.

Touring for his sold out Electric Light tour commences May 27. See dates below.

Composed in East London’s Baltic Studios, Bay co-wrote and co-produced Electric Light with longtime friend and collaborator Jon Green and brought onboard Paul Epworth [Adele, Florence and The Machine] to add final production.

“Wild Love” has already reached 20 million Spotify streams and its official music video co-stars Natalia Dyer of Stranger Things. Watch the “Wild Love” music video here. “Pink Lemonade” has nearly 7 million streams. See the official “Pink Lemonade” music video here 

In addition, the video to “Us” has reached over 15 million views. Check out the music video here Most recently, “Slide” has been pulling in views. Watch here. 

Track listing:

1. Intro
2. Wasted On Each Other
3. Pink Lemonade
4. Wild Love
5. Us
6. In My Head
7. Interlude
8. Just For Tonight
9. Wanderlust
10. I Found You
11. Sugar Drunk High
12. Stand Up
13. Fade Out
14. Slide

Tour dates:

May 27th SWANSEA Radio 1 Biggest Weekend+
May 29th London The Roundhouse+ SOLD OUT
May 30th Manchester Albert Hall+ SOLD OUT
June 1st Sheffield O2 Academy+ SOLD OUT
June 2nd Bristol Colston Hall+ SOLD OUT
June 3rd Cambridge Corn Exchange+ SOLD OUT
June 5th Newcastle 02 Academy+ SOLD OUT
June 6th Leicester De Montfort Hall+ SOLD OUT
June 8th Paris Elysee Montmartre+ SOLD OUT
June 11th Amsterdam Melkweg+ SOLD OUT
June 12th Berlin Huxleys+ SOLD OUT
June 23rd Newport Isle of Wight Festival+
June 27th Corke The Marquee+ SOLD OUT
June 29th Glasgow TRNSMT Festival+
August 17th RIZE Festival Chelmsford- Hyland Park+
September 13th Atlanta, GA Coca Cola Roxy Theatre+
September 14th Nashville, TN Ascend Amphitheater+
September 15th Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Center +
September 18th New York, NY Beacon Theater+
September 19th New York, NY Beacon Theater+
September 20th Washington, DC The Anthem+
September 25th Philadelphia, PA Penn’s Landing – Festival Pier+
September 26th Boston, MA Blue Hills Bank Pavilion+
September 28th Toronto, ON Woodbine Park+
September 29th Detroit, MI Masonic Temple Theatre+
October 1st Chicago, IL Aragon Ballroom+
October 2nd Minneapolis, MN State Theatre+
October 5th Salt Lake City, UT Union event Center+
October 7th Los Angeles, CA The Greek Theatre+
October 11th Berkeley, CA The Greek Theatre+
October 13th Vancouver, BC Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre+
October 14th Seattle, WA Paramount Theatre+
October 15th Portland, OR Rose Garden - Theater of the Clouds+
+ New Tour Dates
For tickets for all shows, please go to

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Doheny Blues Festival '18 preview

Larkin Poe photo courtesy Red Light Mgmt.
If you’ve ever satisfied a blues music fix at Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point, there is still find plenty to savor now that the event has moved to Sea Terrace Park.

“We owe it to the audience buying a ticket and coming to the festival to get it as close to perfect as we can,” Rich Sherman, event producer and president of Omega Events, said in a phone interview.

Following a two-decade Doheny State Beach run, the announcement of the change was made last December. If regular attendees are skeptical about whether organizers can replicate the old experience on May 19-20, Sherman dispelled any doubts.

It will be “almost exactly the same,” he affirmed, with straight ahead sightlines at the main Dana Point stage and a large seating area for gold/VIP ticket buyers. The party-minded PCH Stage is returning; the more intimate Backporch Stage, enhanced.

“Everybody likes being up close. We’ve done a lot of design elements and added to that with the big craft beer area” (plus the popular wine lounge and international food court). “The flow at each of the three stages will be very similar to what it’s been in the past.”

The location change stemmed from a failed site bid. Keeping everything in town was a primary goal for Omega Events, which immediately met Dana Point business leaders and city officials. They were equally passionate about the festival staying around, its importance to the local economy and cultural impact.

“It didn’t take much time to identify the best location and dates,” said Sherman. “We’re very thankful for the support from the city of Dana Point.”

Eric Burdon photo: Bob Steshetz
Once a site agreement was finalized, the booking process commenced in January. Despite a compressed timeframe, Omega Events still managed “a good pool of talent,” said Sherman.

"We’re thrilled with the lineup that we pulled together, but it did create a challenge by getting a late start. “We looked at the real meat and potatoes blues acts that you want to have on the lineup and cool new acts.”

Atlanta-bred Larkin Poe, a rising sibling duo, whose latest full-length effort “Peach” mixes incendiary originals with traditional blues numbers, is definitely one to watch.

“They’ve been doing viral videos, covering Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters, and those have blossomed their career over the last year,” Sherman said. “You have these young women, playing blues and early rock ‘n’ roll and it’s exciting to see. That’s why we booked ‘em. We’re getting a lot of positive feedback about them coming to the show. I anticipate a big crowd” for their Doheny debut.

Saturday co-headliner George Thorogood is touring behind 2017 acoustic album “Party of One” (Rounder Records), where he interprets blues classics by artists that influenced him such as Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, Robert Johnson. Thorogood also tackles John Cash, the Rolling Stones and reinvents his own "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer."

Also topping that evening’s bill is Blues Traveler, returning to the festival after a 17-year absence. The group has a new album due later this year. Then there's Fabulous Thunderbirds founder Jimmie Vaughan. 

Eric Gales is among several musicians making their first Doheny Blues appearance.

"Probably 1/3 of our lineup has never played the event before. That’s unique after 20 years, for sure," affirmed Sherman. "Eric is a monster guitar player. If you like big searing guitar, he’s your guy. He’s had a renaissance in his career and is really on a roll right now. He’s very humble and blessed to be playing and we’re thrilled to have him. That’s going to be a really electric show."
photo: Bob Steshetz
On Sunday, 81-year-old blues legend Buddy Guy looks to be a major draw. His next album “The Blues is Alive and Well,” due June 15 on Silvertone/RCA, features appearances by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and James Bay.

Sherman is excited about having Guy play Doheny a fourth time. “We are really fortunate to have featured B.B. King, Little Richard and Chuck Berry and Buddy Guy” in the past. “Buddy is the direct lineage to the beginning of American rock ‘n’ roll music.”

Former War and The Animals frontman Eric Burdon, best known for such 1960s and early '70s hits as "We Gotta Get Outta This Place," "It's My Life," "Spill the Wine," "House of the Rising Sun" and "Don't Bring Me Down" is making his third Doheny appearance.

Kim Wilson is no stranger to the Dana Point event either. 

"It seems like he’s hanging out every year," joked Sherman. "He’ll come and sit in with people. He was there for the first event with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. That was the year that Jimmie Vaughan [joined] them and he hadn’t played with T-Birds since he left. That reunion was a special moment. He’s got a killer all-star band that he recorded his last record ["Blues and Boogie, Vol. 1] with - one of the best of the year in the blues community. He’s motivated to play that music. Blues is his passion."
Beth Hart photo: Bob Steshetz
Another must-see set is Los Angeles native Beth Hart. She previously played Doheny Blues in '15 and has three recent releases: "Front and Center - Live from New York" (taken from the PBS-TV special), last year's studio album "Fire on the Floor" and "Black Coffee," a collaboration with Joe Bonamassa.

Inland Empire blues musician Chris Thayer, leader of Chris Thayer & the TCB (formerly Big Papa & the TCB), said the 2018 lineup "looks light years better than previous years. It actually looks like a blues festival again. I think they finally are getting it right.

"Nothing against the classic rock acts, but I think a blues festival should have headliners that actually play blues," he continued. The singer/guitarist also believes more local independent talent should have the opportunity to play it. 

Transportation options for the festival include free parking on Niguel Road and Pacific Coast Highway; a trolley, shuttles at four Dana Point locations, the Harbor area, area hotels and the nearby campground. Sherman pointed out that “the front gate is pretty easy to get to,” a hassle-free Rideshare drop off and bike parking.

As for the future of Doheny Blues, Sherman said “our job is to produce a great event and work with the neighboring associations and hotels nearby. Assuming all goes as well as we expect, our plan is to try to establish a long-term festival site at Sea Terrace.” 

Doheny Blues Festival 
When: Gates open at 11 a.m. (general admission passholders) – 9 p.m. Saturday, May 19-11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 20; no lineups before 8 a.m.
Where: Sea Terrace Park, Pacific Coast Highway and Niguel Rd., Dana Point
Tickets: $475 advance for gold two-day pass ($260 gold single day); $275 VIP two-day pass ($160 VIP single day); $140 general admission two-day pass ($80 single day). Gold passholders early entry access starts at 10 a.m. daily. VIP almost sold out. Prices increase by $10 on May 18.

Saturday lineup: George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Blues Traveler, Jimmie Vaughan, Anders Osborne, Eric Gales, Larkin Poe, Knockout Greg, Chris Cane All Stars, Mitch Woods, Nathan James, Dany Franchi, Artur Menezes, Silver Kings 
Sunday lineup: Buddy Guy, Eric Burdon, Beth Hart, California Honeydrops, John Nemeth's Love Light Orchestra, Nikki Hill, Kim Wilson's Blues All Stars, Curtis Salgado & Alan Hager, Quinn Sullivan, Santos & Sinners, Mercedes Moore Band Information: 

A version of my story originally appeared at, and other Southern California News Group publications.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Like Totally ‘80s Festival 2018 review feat. The Human League, The Motels, Dramarama, The Alarm, DJ Richard Blade, others, in Huntington Beach, Calif.

photo: Bob Steshetz/Bob by Request
“The last time I remember being on a beach in Southern California was in 1982. I think Laura Branigan introduced us,” recalled Phil Oakey of The Human League on Saturday.

Although the pioneering British synth-pop group doesn't exactly spring to mind when you think of a beach environment (at one point in the set, an inflated ball landed onstage and co-vocalist Susan Ann Sulley disgustedly tossed it aside), as headliner of the Like Totally ‘80s Festival in Huntington Beach, Calif., the trio delivered a sleek performance that sounded terrific.

Held in the same location as 2017, the daylong event boasted what was arguably its best lineup to date, with The Motels, Dramarama, The Alarm, Naked Eyes, Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel, The Untouchables, Tiffany, When in Rome’s Clive Farrington, Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats, Tim Worman of The Polecats and local ‘80s tribute act The Reflexx. 

DJ Richard Blade, known for his longtime stint at the World Famous KROQ/106.7 FM and currently heard on SiriusXM’s 1st Wave and JACK FM/Los Angeles’ “Flashback Lunch,” emceed the proceedings.

Between sets, he played perfect tunes for the occasion and signed copies of his recent memoir, “World in My Eyes” (the book is an absorbing read and a must-buy for anyone that grew up in the Eighties and loves modern rock music from the era).

Speaking of musicians from that time, Blondie drummer Clem Burke (an ex-member of Dramarama) and onetime Wham! bassist Deon Estus were spotted backstage. Blade’s former colleague at KROQ, Jed “The Fish” Gould, was also in attendance with his dog.

Between the music, festivalgoers could peruse merchandise vendors, grab bites from food trucks and take part in a retro-themed costume contest.

The Human League sounded superb and used a black and white color scheme for everything. Backed by three young male musicians playing keyboards/synth/drums, they opened the 12-song, 60-minute set with the jubilant girl group-styled “Mirror Man.” Oakey frequently moved around the stage, either to sing a line with Sulley and Joanne Catherall or stand atop the riser.

Two of the auxiliary musicians played keytar and Oakey (pictured left with Sulley) sang with arms outstretched during the eerie electro strains of “The Sound of the Crowd,” the first of five songs from 1981’s “Dare” (the band’s biggest worldwide seller).

Donning a long, black leather coat, he sang solo on the stark “Seconds.” The gals returned for a percolating “The Lebanon” and some seamless harmonies. Their 1986 American pop chart topper “Human” drew a loud response from the audience.

“Open Your Heart” was a standout, while the metronomic beat of “Love Action” saw Oakey joke about when the song originated. That elicited a rare smile from the ladies, who otherwise were all business. Before a strong “(Keep Feeling) Fascination,” Oakey teased about telling a related anecdote, but didn’t because they “didn’t want to go over curfew.” The Human League closed with its signature hit “Don’t You Want Me?,” as everyone sang along, and encored with Oakey’s enchanting solo U.K. hit “Together in Electric Dreams.”

The Motels recently released “The Last Few Beautiful Days,” their first new album in 10 years. Fans at the fest got a nice sampling of the strong effort during the solid 40-minute set, which included the eerie new wave of “Tipping Point,” a dramatic “Punchline” and infectious first single “Lucky Stars,” which has hit written all over it. Check out the video here: 

Playing electric guitar, Martha Davis and The Motels started with classic gems “So L.A.” and “Take the L.” Many women in the crowd heartily sang along. Clint Walsh’s lead guitar chops were on full display for the racing “Mission of Mercy” and rocking “Closets & Bullets” (off the 1979 self-titled debut).

Davis was completely enrapturing during “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Only the Lonely.” Marty Jourard -part of the ‘80s group lineup - shined with the memorable sax solo everyone knows on the latter. Finally, Davis capped the performance off by tossing her hat into the crowd.

Naked Eyes, led by original singer Pete Byrne, did a pleasant 35-minute set. Backed by three musicians, he started with the moody new wave of “Emotion in Motion” from 1983’s “Burning Bridges.” Byrne said the catchy new tune “Piccadilly” was inspired by “a walk through the streets of London on a foggy afternoon.” The lyrics about being “on the way to Leicester Square” recalled Ray Davies.

The dance-oriented “(What) In the Name of Love” saw him ditch an acoustic guitar and strongly urge the crowd to get out of their seats and boogie. He worked both sides of the stage on the group’s major singles “Promises Promises” and “Always Something There to Remind Me” (with slow acoustic intro and outro sections), but the chatty crowd only casually paid attention.

Anchored by the powerhouse drumming of Tony Snow, Dramarama arrived onstage, all engines firing. With an extra electric guitar added to the usual dual attack (thanks to guest Joe Normal of the Anytown’rs), the band kicked things off with the manic intensity of “Some Crazy Dame,” then followed with the hard-charging “Prayer” and sturdy crunch of “I’ve Got Spies.”

Frontman John Easdale (pictured left) pointed out that “Work for Food” is still relevant today when he quipped “It’s nice to know I wrote this song in the ‘90s and we’ve finally solved the homeless problem.”

Another modern rock radio hit, “Haven’t Got a Clue,” was a highlight (especially Mark Englert’s guitar solo). Easdale’s thought-provoking lyrics on the lively “Up to Here” were impressive. “Last Cigarette” - Richard Blade snuck onstage and held up a “No Smoking” sign - and “Anything Anything (I’ll Give You)” were hard-hitting as ever.

Right before the rousing call and response action of “The Stand,” Mike Peters of The Alarm recalled a popular nightclub that was located nearby in O.C. until 1986. “I remember the first time we came to the U.S. with U2 we played The Golden Bear in 1983,” he said. It was just one example of the Welsh singer/guitarist making the performance feel intimate.

Despite having just flown into Southern California after a marathon fan-centric “Gathering” gig in New York City the night before, the indefatigable Peters still threw all his energy into the half dozen songs performed.

Alongside James Stevenson on bass (following earlier electric guitar duties for Gene Loves Jezebel), Peters and company packed a mighty punch. From the strident starter “Marching On” right through the mighty missionary zeal of “Strength,” he played the life out of his acoustic instrument labeled "equalizer."

Between those were passionate takes on “’68 Guns,” the harmonica-laden “Where Were You Hiding (When the Storm Broke)” – complete with a recollection of playing it on Britain’s “Top of the Pops” in 1984 – and “Rescue Me.”

Forthcoming studio album “Equals” is due out June 29. It returns to tour here this summer.

The Reflexx did its own brief set, then backed bigger names: Clive Farrington of When in Rome sang two songs, including his hit “The Promise”; Tim “Polecat” Worman of The Polecats offered up his band’s “Make a Circuit with Me”; Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats continued the upbeat rockabilly theme. He played a cocktail drum kit and sang on “Rumble in Brighton,” “Rock This Town” and Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox” with assistance from Worman.

Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel (pictured left) made its first U.S. live appearance in a decade (his estranged brother Michael, who used to be in the band, fronts his own version). Jay and some longtime members put out “Dance Underwater” last fall after a 14-year recording absence under the GLJ name.

In O.C., the band opened with the needling title track. Jay was in good form, making flippant comments and handling his trademark falsetto whoops and hollers well. Standouts included the machine gun riffage of “Twenty Killer Hurts,” “Jealous” (with the appropriate lyrics on a day when it rained in the morning: “I watch the sun cut through the cloudy skies”),” some call and response action in “Motion of Love” and the extended version of “Desire,” where Jay did gestures from the music video.

The Untouchables turned in a spirited early afternoon set. The audience responded to the upbeat ska tunes by dancing amid the folding chairs and beanbags in the VIP section. Led by Jerry Miller, the band did all its best-known songs like “I Spy for the F.B.I.,” “Twist and Shake” “Live and Let Dance” and “Free Yourself” – many with energetic horn work by the Moynahan Brothers. A little girl, who might have been Miller’s daughter, frolicked in between the chaos.

photo: Bob Steshetz
Eighties teen pop queen Tiffany and her six-piece band (including a soulful female backing vocalist) launched the festival with a rocked up take on her successful cover of The Beatles’ “I Saw Him Standing There” and turned “Could’ve Been” into a power ballad.

The barefoot singer debuted a couple songs from a forthcoming album (such as the driving rocker “Beautiful”) and Tommy James’ “I Think We’re Alone Now” was a fun closer.

All told, the proceedings ran smoothly and I look forward to seeing what the promoters cook up next year.

Photos by Bob Steshetz. See more of his work via social media, @BobByRequest, or